One of the most important foundations of any relationship? Trust.
Sadly, that trust can be shattered by addiction. If drugs or alcohol come immediately to mind, that’s not unusual. Yet, gambling addiction can just as easily tear apart an otherwise loving couple.
Gambling addiction is less commonly discussed and often, less obvious. Therefore, one of the first steps toward recovery involves learning how to recognize it. Toward that end, we’ll look at some of the most common lies you’ll hear from a gambling addict. In addition, if you recognize these lies, you need to avoid the temptation to cover for or enable the gambler. So, let’s get right to it.
How Your Partner May Try to Keep You in the Dark
As much as you want to trust them, you must be on the lookout for supposed reassurances like:
“I don’t have a gambling problem.”
This is a confession that they are gambling, probably more than you know. Still, they’ll tell you, they’ve got it “under control” and “I can stop anytime I want.” Gamblers will say stuff like this even after they’ve lost everything. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism.
“It doesn’t hurt anyone if I have a little gambling fun.”
Be warned, they probably believe this to be true. Thus, this lie will be spoken with recognizable sincerity. Compulsive gambling hurts everyone in the addict’s immediate circle. Plus, gamblers are often engaged in other risky, addictive behaviors — from drinking to pornography and beyond. Another lie connected to this one is: “I never touched our savings.”
“I wasn’t gambling. I was just hanging out with friends.”
They will not admit to being out of control. To cover up for missing funds, they’ll tell all tales of helping out a friend in need. In other instances, watch out for stories that begin with lines like “you won’t believe what happened.”
“I quit gambling. You can trust me.”
These are the words you’ve dreamt of hearing. But addicts are adept at telling others exactly what they want to hear. Remember, it’s virtually impossible for your gambling partner to stop cold turkey. Only through actions — not words — can trust be earned.
Enabling Makes Things Worse
A compulsive gambler will eventually get themselves into some kind of trouble. At that point, they will expect you to help. You will likely be very tempted to help and take their side. You may find different ways to bail them out, e.g.
- Helping to pay off debt
- Lying to friends, family, his boss, etc. about what’s going on
- Cutting them slack when it comes to day-to-day responsibilities
Another big temptation will be finding ways to control them or at least slow them down. Reminder: He cannot control themselves, Hence, you cannot control them either. The gambler must agree to treatment. In the meantime, the best you can do is to protect yourself and your family. Cut off access to money and look into treatment options and facilities.
What If They Won’t Go to Treatment?
Gambling addiction is treatable. But, again, a gambler will need professional support to overcome the addiction. If they will not commit to such a program, you can take care of yourself by attending Gam-Anon meetings. It’s a 12-step program for those impacted by gambling addicts. You should also consider individual therapy to help process what’s happening. The following will be important themes:
- Accepting the reality of the situation
- Learning to recognize when your partner is covering up and lying
- Resisting the urge to protect and enable
- Trying to get them into a treatment program
- Taking care of yourself, whether your partner does or not